Just over a year ago, I decided to take part in an early 'Brexit' and move away from my motherland, the UK and begin a new life in the Netherlands. Since then, I have settled into my new life, job and feel very happy within my new surroundings.
My move was relatively straightforward. Firstly, as the distance isn't too far, so I can visit friends and family, when I wish and it is actually very similar to the UK in many ways. I like the language, humour and weather to name just a few, so the transition has been relatively smooth.
Also, my partner is a 'Dutchie' and to build a better future together and establish our family life, it was only right that we were situated in one place. As a result we now reside in the land of cheese and clogs.
Since moving I have feel I have become a little bit more like myself again, more like the person I want to be, perhaps just fully enjoying life and making the of things that come my way. Now I cycle a lot, run a lot and probably rediscovered a part of me that was lost for a while.
I have been really pleased with my new home and surroundings. The Netherlands is a lovely place to live and I feel lucky to be part of the country and the many wonderful things that are on offer. The scenery, the culture and the customs, it is all good.
Moving here is a little bit of a contrast to where I'm originally from. Fair enough, there is no mountains here and a ruggedness I'm so used too. It hasn't really bothered me though, as I now live close to the sea and as the country is relatively small, you can reach almost everywhere within a few hours.
Besides being slightly obsessed with the outdoors, being outdoors and doing outdoors, I'm also slightly disturbed by my fascination with the weather. I think I do have some answers. I'm a Geographer at heart and feel happiest being in the outdoors seeing and experiencing this that working hand in hand with nature.
The Winter is a season I love. I really like the cold, snow, frost, low light and effect this has on the landscape. To have a proper winter is something I really look forward to and when it happens, I like nothing more than putting the appropriate gear and just getting out there an experiencing our beautiful world.
Sadly, in recent years, it has been well documented that global warming is playing its part and with the ever changing jet streams, it means that what was once a pretty much guaranteed cold and snowy winter, now becomes mild, grey and a little uninspiring.
Thankfully, winter here, has not been like last years and it has certainly been a great delight to see some cold, frost days. Recently, the weather has been cold and clear for a long period, which has lead to some brilliant opportunities to not only discover my surroundings a little more, but also capture some potentially great photographs.
As I continually highlight, I'm not a photographer and everything I do is either through learning from others, being inspired by others, or simply learning from my mistakes. I have a good camera, but predominately take images (out and about) on my smartphone. This winter has given me another chance to experiment with those potential opportunities and where possible I have tried to do that while either being out on my bike or out on a run. It might sound bizarre, but it is good to multi task and due to the fact I'm slightly obsessed with both cycling and running, it seems only natural that I take a few images along the way.
After taking a shot, I generally have to look at the editing process. I'm really not the best at editing a photo, but it is something I have learnt to improve overtime and with the use of many popular apps and computer based software, I come up with something I'm happy with. To bore you with the overall editing process is a pain I wish not to put you through. I personally find it so boring listening to others telling, writing or vlogging 'how they edit a photo' and if that 'floats your boat' then I will leave that upto the 'so called' experts. For me, life all about finding things out for yourself and learning from your mistakes? My job is to teach and develop young minds, by taking control and influencing too much, can diminish creativity and as a result everything just turns out the same.
Maybe it's really just me, but I prefer to be different and I like it to remain that way. I'm not one to follow the crowd or make out to be something I'm not, there is no point, as you only get found out in the end. Go figure!
Being armed with a bike and camera is a pretty lethal combination, as sometimes the opportunity or moment arises where the perfect shot is just being laid out in front of you. With that in mind, I don't particularly go looking to shoot, basically I don't have the time. I just take the chance while cycling to work or completing a training session at the weekend, and to be perfectly quite honest, I like it that way. I work hard in the week (educating and inspiring others) and I really look forward to good family time at the weekend. It is so very valuable, as we're always so aware that life is so short. Therefore, I actively seek every chance / opportunity to utilise my time management wisely.
I also like the feeling of just living my life, in the moment or I guess, in the context of photography, just capturing the moment. In my opinion, for what its worth, capturing the moment means that if I see something spontaneous that appeals, I will try my very best to capture it, as opposed to purposely going out, setting up and taking some specific. I would be good if I could work that way, but I'm personally someone who doesn't live there life by a plan. Of course, I have some routines, but I feel when you do go out looking, you don't always end up finding what you are looking for. Of course... others might see things differently than me and of course have their opinion, but... that is just me, using the time I have.
The landscapes here in the Netherlands always offer some great opportunities to take an abundance of water shots, with the many inland waterways and lakes scattered all around the country. Lonely trees, sitting in the wide expanse of an open flat polder and many long, straight cycle paths, that help to give a wonderful sense of perspective and point of view, of the wider surroundings. I live in the South of Holland, so it is predominately flat and exposed to what nature throws at it. Further to the East there is fantastic array of woodland that stretches to the German border. Here too some wonderful images are also be captured and on a regular basis, by talented photographers, who maximize the natural elements of light and shadow, within their beautiful surroundings.
Since moving here I have realised that the winters in the Netherlands can be rather spectacular, as (high above) when the air masses naturally collide, there can be many days where there is an abundance of lingering fog, ice encrusted landscapes, fields, trees and bushes covered in thick frost and snowfalls that can create a wondrous scene, especially in the woodland areas.
Last year, the weather just seemed to be typically the same. With prevailing winds from the south west establishing a gloomy, grey facade that pretty much lasted all season long. As a result the weather was windy and raining, pretty much all of the time. So much so, that it was nasty at times and annoying when I was out and about cycling. Thankfully, so far this year, we have been really lucky and had a varied conditions, that have generally been a great mix of almost everything.
Images of Winter
The above images are some of the many images that I have managed to capture, while out and about on my travels, during the winter months. So far, it has all been pretty good, with a range of weather types, over the past few months. With that in mind, it has simply been wonderful to just experience some days of lingering thick fog, around Christmas and more recently, a long week of hard frost and beautifully clear skies.
For me, that has been really great to see and something I'm sure everyone visiting here, would love to see too, once the ice arrives and the canals begin to freeze over. The popular winter pastime of skating takes hold. I think the the depth of the ice has to be measured and once the all clear is given, everyone takes to the ice, even pretenders like me.
As previously highlighted (further up) it is definitely something I have never witnessed before and actually seeing it take place in small provincial villages on the route home from work and also in some random places is perhaps what you wouldn't expect to see someone on a cold winters day. In fact the other day I was cycling along, next to a narrow canal, when a man passed me on his skates. He was probably going home from work or doing the shopping, but it was out in the middle of nowhere and just seemed so strange to me.
Whatever the reason, it is a fabulous sight to see and seeing people come together and enjoy something collectively, as a community or club is a pretty good vibe. Unfortunately, what snow we have had this winter has been relatively sparse. I live in the city of Rotterdam and also we are closely located near the sea. Here the winds maintain a warmer feel to things and if I want to see some substantial snowfalls, I would probably have to head to the higher ground near Limburg or even across the border into Germany. Hopefully before the winter is out, I can get to see something of these areas, as I have only visited once in the summer months.
I would like to extend a big thank you for taking the time to read my musings. I don't have all the answers and certainly don't profess to be an expert at anything I do. I again just live my life to the full and want to experience, as much as possible.
For me, writing a blog is a way of not only sharing thoughts and topics with my friends and family, but also perhaps appeal to a wider audience, that may choose to read, listen and comment, sharing there views.
With that I fully appreciate any comments, support or criticism. I look at it all with an open mind and of course use it as a vehicle of not trying to improve my work, but also a source of inspiring me to attempt something new.
I will not only 'forge my own path', but I'm significantly inspired by others and the things they do, achieve or their own unique view on things. With that in mind I would like to share some others in the Netherlands, who consistently produce work that not only inspires me to greater things, but also captures the wonderful Netherlands in their own personal way.
Of course there are many others out there and many I also admire, but in particular these are the people that have significantly influenced me when living in the UK and also now that I live in the Netherlands.
For more of their inspiring work, please click on the links above.
Next month, I travel back to the UK and hope to document something new then. Please look out for some future posts.
If you have any queries, questions or just want to say hi, then please email email@example.com or contact my Instagram, Twitter accounts in the social media section of this blog.
Latest images from @garethmate